Town council's unanimous 'no' to fracking


2468 Marli Banks 1 OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
The Alice Springs Town Council has unanimously supported a motion by Councillor Marli Banks to ask for the NT government moratorium on fracking to remain in place indefinitely.
The motion, seconded by Cr Eli Melky, was put on Monday during the first council meeting for 2018.
This is its full text: “That the Alice Springs Town Council does not support lifting the moratorium on onshore shale gas fracking; and in doing so writes to the Chief Minister and relevant Ministers to formally convey the position.”
Councillors Jacinta Price and Glen Auricht were absent, but the seven to nil result, including the votes of Mayor Damien Ryan and Deputy Mayor Jamie de Brenni, exceeded the normal majority by two votes.
Councillor Banks (pictured helping at a stall during the 2017 Old Timers Fete) was elected in August last year.
The decision comes as the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing is due to hand down its final report in March.
Cr Banks says “without mandating many of the key recommendations of the inquiry prior to shale gas exploration, Central Australian water and land would be exposed to significant and unnecessary risk”.
The inquiry’s preliminary report containing 120 recommendations “concluded it could not assess the scale of risk to regional water supplies from fracking because much of the data on flow and aquifer recharge rates was unavailable”.
Moving to the new aquifer at Rocky Hill – also not fully explored – would cost more than $90m.
“I am proud to see our Council taking a strong position that reflects key community concerns and attitudes to the risks that shale gas fracking presents to our region.”
Cr Banks says enquiries made by the council with the government about fracking issues in November had still not been answered.
“The motion is the first time that the ASTC has taken a formal position on onshore shale fracking. It follows council policy to call on the NT Government to protect the Alice Springs water supply now and into the future, and in so doing determine assets of strategic importance to nearby residential areas,” says Cr Banks.
“Alice Springs relies on water that comes from a non rechargeable supply. It is vital that we know where our water will come from into the future, before allowing mining companies to access millions of litres for shale gas fracking.”
The Inquiry will be in Alice Springs for public hearings on February 8. This will be the last round of hearings before the Inquiry releases its final report in mid March. A decision as to whether or not to lift the moratorium will then be made by Cabinet members of the NT government, says Cr Banks.
The Council “will be in attendance at these final hearings to put forward its strong position that the moratorium on fracking should remain in place”.


  1. Very pleased to see the Alice Springs Town Council support this. The NT Government must take heed or suffer the consequences.

  2. Further to my first post, if the Alice Springs Town Council could combine with the MacDonnell Shire, Barkly Shire and the Central Desert Shire to present a united anti-fracking stand, their combined voices might carry a bit more weight.
    I don’t know what the other shires stand on this issue is. Have they debated it? Anyone?

  3. More “one size fits all policy” with local government yet again exceeding its mandate.
    I wholeheartedly agree with a total ban on exploration fracking in our area, because that is what the scientific evidence indicates, and that’s where the Council should have left it.
    To support a total ban Territory-wide is meaningless and doesn’t recognise that much of the NT has hydrology VERY different to the East Coast.
    It seems nobody can have a nuanced, intelligent discussion any more. It is always all or nothing, black or white. The reality is the real world exists in the million shades of grey in between.

  4. I support the council’s move. The result of the Scientific Study is irrelevant because the science is not where the risk is. If it was left to the engineers and the scientists there would never be a problem because their agenda is to do a good job. The risk is with the owners of the mine, whose agenda is profit, and the regulator, who can be easily seduced by a deep pocketed mining sector to overlook problems, go soft on compliance etc in return for various advantages including lucrative post politics sinecures.

  5. Fantastic that Alice Springs Town Council is unanimously supporting the moratorium. Congratulations to all involved.

  6. 1) It’s not in the job description of the Town Council.
    2) I guess if you think you can forever ride on the coattails of the rest of the country, ok, just oppose anything that might make you financially independent.

  7. The latest announcement by the council makes an informed decision with unsubstantiated proof on fracking, breeding fear and ignorance, with no technical expertise, only a position of self importance to be heard as a leader when the council itself knows little about fracking but wants jobs.

  8. May I add my congratulations to Marli and the councillors on unanimously voting to petition the Chief Minister to keep the moratorium in place indefinitely.
    They have placed the longer term interests of our town and region above short term monetary gain in protecting the water resource that is VITAL to the very existence of our town.
    @ Hermann Weber: If it is not part of the ASTC’s “job description”, which other body do you think can better represent us and look after our interests?
    As for “financial independence” for the NT, the only beneficiaries of fracking our Territory will be the shareholders, mostly overseas, while we will be left with the resulting mess and long-term risk. Simply not worth it.
    @ Chris Tangey: Yes, there are many shades of grey (at least 50, I believe), but what level of contamination will you find acceptable in YOUR drinking water?

  9. @ Hermann Weber: The Town Councils of the 21st Century are more than the “three Rs”: Rates, Roads and Rubbish.
    “The roles of local government areas in Australia have recently expanded as higher levels of government have devolved activities to the third tier. Examples include the provision of community health services, regional airports and pollution control as well as community safety and accessible transport. The changes in services has been described as a shift from ‘services to property’ towards ‘services to people’.”
    Ergo Alice Springs Town Council acted legally to protect our health.

  10. Happy to see that the Alice Springs Town Council can get consensus on this very important topic.
    It is not always them and us but “we of Alice Springs” say No to fracking. Our ground water is so precious.

  11. Here in the NT it is an economic necessity that we get get used to the idea of using some of our water for mining activity.
    Most of this use will be sustainable and not mined and the NT Government is now applying strict guidelines to ground water use.
    A big change is that mines are no longer exempt from the NT Water Act.
    This means that mines must now account for ground water draw down.
    The recent environmental approval of the Mt Peake mine North of Alice is an outstanding example of the use and protection of ground water resources in developing a world scale billion dollar mine.
    Mt Peake will bring more than 500 jobs in the construction place and 250 permanent jobs during the mine life of around 20 years.
    This is the Inpex of the Southern Region of the Territory.
    Local businesses will be flat out working on the new mine and will rapidly expand over a two to three year mine construction period.
    Training of Aboriginal people and employment will be a priority for TNG, the company that will own the mine.
    All Territorians will benefit.
    Water for the mine comes for an aquifer that is not connected to other aquifers and this is the case for many aquifers that are subject to fracking.
    Mining and water conservation can be compatible and having a blanket ban on fracking is just silly.
    Every project should be examined on an individual basis.

  12. @ Evelyne Roullet, @ Herman Weber. Ms Roullet and Mr Weber raise a growing issue in the role of local government in our political governance landscape.
    Rates roads and rubbish is fast becoming lost in the local government rush to be a springboard for political careers with influence in State Territory and Federal Parliament.
    The big question that needs to be debated urgently is – how far should we the people allow local councils to represent us beyond the provision of essential services?
    Green councils down here in Mexico are extending that role into matters of public ethics and values that exceed their council charter. I do not want council speaking for me in my private social values.

  13. Thank you Alice Springs Town Council! Great to see unity and I support the views of Maya, Evelyne Roullet, Jonathan Pilbrow and Mike Smith!
    Thank you for speaking up for us all and supporting a good move towards saving our precious ground and water and health for now and the future!
    And to “Jones”:
    NO, there’s no necessity for fracking!
    It is NOT sustainable!
    NOT all Territorians would benefit at all!

  14. @ Domenico: Please try to present a reasoned response. Producing strawman propositions out of thin air on things I have clearly neither said nor insinuated is not helpful to the discussion.

  15. @ Chris Tangey. The fracking debate has gone the same way as the climate change debate, shackled by emotion.
    Both lend themselves towards an ideological Mother Earth position by one side.
    I doubt whether any scientific data that supports fracking in any terrain will cut any ice (so to speak) with the idealogues at the Australia Institute, a renowned Green policy think tank.


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